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Ian Explains: What Is A War Crime? | GZERO World

Going after war criminals

The accusations of Russian war crimes in Ukraine have shocked the world. The Kremlin, of course, denies targeting civilians and says it’s the Ukrainians who are violating the rules of war. So what happens when one side does commit atrocities during a conflict?

It might be prosecuted for war crimes, like the Nazis who were tried in Nuremberg after World War II, just a few years before the latest version of the Geneva Convention was ratified in 1949, establishing the core of international humanitarian law.

More recently, the UN has set up special courts to prosecute war crimes like those in the former Yugoslavia (this week is the 30th anniversary of the start of the war in Bosnia), and 20 years ago the UN-backed International Criminal Court was established.

Such bodies were able to try the likes of Slobodan Milošević, the former president of Yugoslavia, and convict Charle Taylor, the Liberian warlord-turned-president.

But others evaded justice. Not everyone is on board with international tribunals for war crimes.

The US, China, and Russia have not joined the ICC — in the American case, Bill Clinton tried but it was never ratified by Congress.

Lack of jurisdiction will make it hard — but not impossible — to go after Russians accused of war crimes in Ukraine.

Zelensky addresses the UN Security Council in a video message

Anthony Behar/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

What We’re Watching: Zelensky at the UN, French race tightens, Sri Lankan crisis worsens

Zelensky wants justice over Russian war crimes

In his first address to the UN Security Council, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday said Russians accused of war crimes in Ukraine must be brought to justice, noting that the atrocities in Bucha and elsewhere are the worst Europe has seen since World War II. Prior to Zelensky’s speech, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is working with the UN-backed International Criminal Court to investigate the alleged war crimes. The International Court of Justice has already ordered Russia to cease and desist but has no authority to enforce its ruling. But some argue that pursuing indictments during ongoing conflicts can frustrate efforts toward peace agreements, thereby raising the risk of further atrocities. Meanwhile, the mounting allegations are putting more pressure on Western powers to slap harsher sanctions on Moscow — perhaps even targeting Russian oil and coal by the EU.

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A soldier takes a photograph of his comrade as he poses beside a destroyed Russian tank and armored vehicles in Bucha, Ukraine.

REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

What We’re Watching: Russian war crimes, Orbán 4.0, Sri Lankan turmoil

EU sanctions loom over alleged Russian war crimes

After Russian forces withdrew from the outskirts of Ukraine's capital, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government on Sunday accused them of committing war crimes by massacring civilians in the Kyiv suburbs of Bucha, Irpin, and Hostomel. Authorities are gathering evidence of the alleged atrocities to build a case against Russian officials at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and former ICC chief prosecutor Carla del Ponte wants to issue an international arrest warrant for Putin. To convict, Ukrainians would need to show a pattern of deliberate targeting of civilians. Still, the carnage has convinced the EU to act: it is preparing a wave of fresh sanctions against the Kremlin. It's unclear what the new measures will be, but pressure is mounting on the bloc to finally target Russian oil and natural gas, which many EU states depend on for energy. Late Sunday, Zelensky appeared at the Grammys in a pre-taped message. "Our musicians wear body armor instead of tuxedos," he said, asking viewers to support Ukraine any way they can. Meanwhile, Russia-Ukraine peace talks may resume on Monday in Turkey, and Moscow is saying it’s not yet ready for face-to-face talks between Putin and Zelensky.

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Kosovo President Indicted for War Crimes; Americans Barred from EU? | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

Kosovo president indicted for war crimes​; Americans barred from EU?

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, provides his perspective from Europe:

What will happen to the president of Kosovo?

Well, if the indictments that have now been published are confirmed, then he actually faces arrest. And we'll have to go to The Hague and then face a lengthy, complicated trial where our protection of witnesses is going to be quite a problem. It's going to take years. And no question, this will bring significant turmoil to the politics of Kosovo.

Will Americans be prevented from entering the European Union?

That's now being discussed by the by the ministers over videoconference with Brussels. But on the criteria that are there at the moment, it looks not unlikely that will be the case. But the debate is still ongoing.

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